SPIRG ordered to pay court costs
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Dec 13, 2012  |  Vote 0    0

SPIRG ordered to pay court costs

Mount Forest Confederate

By Don Crosby

For the Confederate

Southgate has been awarded $40,000 in legal costs. A judge has ordered Southgate Public Interest Research Group (SPIRG) to pay a portion of Southgate’s court cost relating to an appeal the group launched against a building permit the municipality issued to Lystek International earlier this year.

Justice Leonard Ricchetti, in a ruling handed down on Dec.7 in a Brampton court, ordered SPIRG to pay Southgate $39,185.35. The amount is due immediately.

The township’s total costs were closer to $70,000 but Mayor Brian Milne said Southgate had asked for $50,000.

SPIRG challenged a building permit issued to Lystek by the municipality’s building official in February to construct a 20,000 square foot processing plant in Dundalk’s Eco Park where biosolids would be turned into liquid fertilizer for agricultural use. SPIRG had also argued that the plant was not a dry manufacturing facility.

On Oct. 2 Judge Ricchetti upheld the building permit and ruled Lystek could complete construction of the building. And although he ruled the plant is a “dry facility” – one that doesn’t rely on municipal water and sewer services -- he said the company couldn’t operate the facility until it was connected to town water and sewer services.

“This is good news for the citizens of Southgate Township. It shows that the time and funds we expended to defend the issuing of the building permit was appropriate and that the development of the Eco Park should continue,” Mayor Milne said during an interview on Sunday.

Justice Ricchetti, in his Dec. 7 decision, did not award any costs to Lystek related to the appeal of the building permit. The judge reasoned that the original appeal of Lystek’s building permit involved the municipality and that Lystek came into the case on its own even though the municipality represented its interests.

“Lystek chose to participate as a party despite the fact its interests were aligned with the township and its interests were already adequately protected and that Lystek was unsuccessful on the one distinct issue it raised. I exercise my discretion not to award costs in favour of Lystek,” the judge wrote in his Dec. 7 ruling.

As part of his decision not to award Lystek any court costs in this case the judge noted that Lystek was unsuccessful on one of its main points when its lawyer argued SPIRG didn’t have standing at the trial because it was such an ill defined group.

He wrote that there was little information as to who or what SPIRG is or who are its members. This lack of information became central to the issue of standing at the trial. The issue of standing was resolved in favour of SPIRG.

“It was clear that some of SPIRG’s members consisted of neighbours and residents of the town who opposed the Lystek facility,” said the judge.

The judge also ordered SPIRG to pay Lystek and Southgate each  $1,000 in court costs that dates back to a decision by Owen Sound Superior Court Justice Clayton Conlan on April 26 on another matter.

Representatives of SPIRG and Lystek were unavailable for comment at press time.

SPIRG has since appealed Judge Ricchetti’s Oct. 2 ruling along with two approvals for the Lystek plant by Ministry of the Environment. Documents were filed on Oct. 31 in the divisional court and the Environmental Review Tribunal. No dates have been set for a hearing.

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